Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life


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Teachers

Just a quick one, here.

I wish I could lie and say my pity-party is over, but for whatever reason what happened a couple of weeks ago with our house has felt like that proverbial rock thrown into a pond that ripples outwards in concentric circles. Like, the house instability has made our job instability that much clearer, and the job instability makes M’s depression more obvious, and M’s depression somehow sheds light on my terrible anxiety about most things, but especially about my writing–which makes it impossible for me to actually get much writing done since I feel so stymied by anxiety. Then the acupuncturist tells me in the most gentle way she can manage that she thinks my anxiety is partially to blame for my infertility–how could it not be?–so I’ve been trying my damndest not to be anxious, which, if you think about it, is pretty funny.

Oh, and the guilt for even feeling this way! Yes, I know there are terrible things happening in the world. I know how many blessings I have. I do know, I promise. But telling yourself not to be blue because of all the much realer and scarier sadness in the world is about as futile as trying not to be anxious, wouldn’t you say?

Yesterday I was reading a novel and the concept of teachers came up. Not yoga teachers or gurus, not writing teachers like me–rather, those people we encounter in our lives because they’re here to teach us hard lessons. And my first thought was, Ingrid. Our landlady. What is she here to teach me? I suspect, though my first reaction is “to never trust people again,” that it’s something about knowing what’s fundamentally stable and good in my life, and relying on that, rather than on illusions and might-bes.

But I don’t know, yet. I guess that’s what I have to figure out.

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Small Things

Just a short one, today.

The family friend I mentioned months ago died last week. I watched the last of his videos, one where he launches the wooden boat he had spent the last year building with his kids. His face in the video is gaunt with rictus. He looks terrible. His kids—just teenagers, heartbreaking—look drawn and terrified. But the boat moves beautifully in the Portland harbor.

He died a few weeks after the launch.

Meditating, the night after he died, I couldn’t find him anywhere. I hope that means he’s already sailed off to wherever it is we go; I don’t want spirits hanging around, after all, and why would he come to find me? But I have felt in the past two years a deep connection to this man that I don’t even really know, I think because from afar, I watched him die. And I watched him die with incredible grace. He furthered my practice in that I realized along the way that, as Pema says, no matter what we do, we still have to face old age and death. He made me realize that if I want to live this life I have to really live it. Experience it, be present with it, breathe through it. And so in that way, I wanted to find him and send him off.

Meditating the night after he died, I said this:

Jonathan, I send you lovingkindness, safe passage, and gratitude for your grace.

And I send your children and your family love and white light to continue living.

Hard, though.